This post is a part of feminisms fest. Today’s topic, why feminism matters, is being hosted by Danielle Vermeer.
Among many feminists and complementarians we find a startling similarity: a penchant to say what women should do and who they ought to be. They seem to think that womanhood is written somewhere in the Bible or in the universe or in reason, and they strive to discover that and then hand it down to women as the ideal they must uphold in order to be a woman. And not just a woman, but a good woman, a complete woman, a proper woman.
What is needed is a shift in the questions we ask. We shouldn’t ask “Who should women be?” but rather “Who are women?” By failing to discover each other’s identities, we fail to discover God. By handing down lists of musts and must nots, we are telling God who He is in each individual. We must instead allow God to tell us who He is.
This is why feminism (for Christians) cannot exist outside a Christian anthropology. It is not enough to be feminists. We must also be humanists.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
As the images of God we each contain something of his identity. We are not simply biological accidents, but we are each inspired by God and reflect him to the world. This means that our essential identities are sacred.
We must protect and nurture what is sacred. And so we must be students of each other, to learn not only from each other, but to learn about God by learning about each other. We must take the time to understand the identities of our fellow humans, for that is where we find God.
This presence of God within human identity is reiterated in the New Testament. At judgment Jesus said the righteous will ask:
“ ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “
We need to remember that the way we treat any one individual, that is the way we are treating God. And so we require a reclaimed feminism—a feminism that sees God in each woman, and treats her accordingly. Right now, the God we claim to love is starving to death, being beaten and raped, being belittled and ridiculed, “put in her place,” being called a slut, and told to stay silent in church.
For whatever we do to the least of these, we do to God.